What Your Brakes Are Telling You

Q. The brakes shudder and shake when I step on the pedal. What’s wrong?
A. The disc rotors could be warped, creating an uneven surface as the pads try to “grab” them while stopping. Even if that’s not the cause, shaking and shuddering under braking can affect braking performance and the condition should be examined immediately.

Q. I heard that squealing sound for a while, but it went away. Does that mean the brakes are OK again?
A. No! The squeaking/squealing sound was caused by wear indicators built into the disc brake pads as they rubbed against the disc rotor. This means there is only about 1/16-inch of pad material left. “Burning” through the wear indicators so they no longer make noise (because they were worn away) means you have less than 1/16-inch of pad material to stop your vehicle. Have the brakes inspected immediately!

Q. Why is it more expensive to repair the brakes if I wait a while?
A. That’s not always the case, but here’s what happens the longer you wait between brake services: As the pads wear beyond their usable life, they can dig into the disc rotors or drums, damaging them enough to require replacement. Severely worn brake pads can also require more work to remove them from the calipers and may require the calipers to be replaced. With regular inspections, you may only have to make periodic pad or shoe replacements, which is typically much less expensive than replacing the pads, rotors and calipers.